New UNAMA chief pledges support for efforts towards Afghan stability and socioeconomic improvement
13 March 2010 - Staffan de Mistura, the new chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), has arrived in Kabul, assuring his support for efforts towards achieving stability and socioeconomic improvement for the country. UN News Centre report
“Whatever the United Nations will be doing in Afghanistan will be done to assist both the stability and socioeconomic improvement of the Afghan people, remembering it should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, with total respect for their own sovereignty and independence,” said Mr de Mistura, who worked previously in Afghanistan.
“I was serving in Afghanistan about 20 years ago, another very delicate transition period. I learned and I am familiar with the traditions and culture of Afghanistan,” Mr de Mistura told journalists at the Kabul airport.
“I am totally aware of the fact that the Afghan people are very proud people, very attached to their traditions and sovereignty, and I'll be working along those lines,” he added.
The Swedish-Italian diplomat – whose UN career adds up to nearly 40 years – had served with the UN Office of the Coordinator for Afghanistan from 1989 to 1991 as fundraising and external relations director.
“I am very honoured that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected me, with the full support of the United Nations Security Council and in consultation with the highest authorities of Afghanistan, to lead all United Nations activities and programmes in Afghanistan at a very critical period in Afghan history,” said the fifth chief of UNAMA.
Mr de Mistura added: “The United Nations has been associated with Afghanistan's history and its people for many years. We're involved not only with assisting the political stability of Afghanistan, but also with many other activities in the social and economic sphere.”
“We not only have planes, but we also have a lot of expertise which we will continue to put at the disposal of the Afghan people if they so desire,” he added.
“The Afghan people have suffered a lot and endured many difficult times. They deserve international support, but especially a better future. The United Nations will do its part,” he concluded.
Mr de Mistura was serving as Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme in Rome when he was appointed in January 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take on the UN’s top post in Afghanistan. His previous career spanned continents, and his posts ranged from organizing major humanitarian relief efforts to public affairs and political representation.
Earlier from 2007 to 2009, he was the UN chief’s Special Representative for Iraq where, under his leadership, the UN mission helped oversee the successful elections and humanitarian assistance towards reconstruction and development.
Mr de Mistura, a dual citizen of Italy and Sweden, was born in Stockholm in 1947. He is taking over the top UN Afghanistan post from Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide who has completed his two-year assignment as head of UNAMA.
UNAMA has been mandated since 2002 to promote peace and stability in the country by leading the international community’s efforts in conjunction with the Government of Afghanistan to rebuild the country and strengthen the foundations of peace and Constitutional democracy.
By Aurora V. Alambra, UNAMA